Everyone wants to be rich and earn big bucks and be listed on the world's richest people list. Money doesn't make you rich in a holistic sense, and a crown of gold won't fill the hole in your heart, but people across the world will always remember you if you're rich.
The richest persons today are Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, with billions of dollars each in their pockets. Yes! It's huge so much so that we tell ourselves that no one has ever reached such a level of wealth. However, if we look into the past, and try to take inflation into account, we can see that there have been even richer men whose fortunes accounted world's half of the world's GDP.
Here are the richest people in history:
1. Mansa Musa (1280-1337) - Wealth incalculable
Illustration by tim obrier
Mansa Moussa, who ruled the Malian Empire, lived from 1280 to 1337 considered the richest man of all time. Indeed, he knew how to conquer Timbuktu and extend his empire to Niger and therefore the most important trade routes of the trans-Saharan trade. He lived from 1280 to 1337 and is considered the king of Timbuktu because of his influence on the city's commerce and culture. He also owned the Bambuk gold mines which account for more than 50 per cent of world supply today. Its territory produced half of the world's gold stock. So it is not hard to believe that his wealth cannot be expressed in dollars, euros or any other amount or currency.
During his pilgrimage to Mecca, he took 60,000 people with him, each carrying nearly 2 kg of gold, and dozens of camels, weighing around 125 kg each, to distribute the fortune to the poor and mosques along the way.
The pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the five main pillars of Islam, and Mansa Musa decided to embark on Hajj in 1324-1325. But, It was not like any other journey ever witnessed. Musa quite literally paved his path to Mecca with gold and put his kingdom on the map.
2. Augustus Caesar (63 BC-AD 14) - $4.6 trillion
Augustus reigned over the Roman Empire from 27 BC to AD 14, after the death of his father Julius Caesar, including Egypt. He was one of the most successful leaders who led the transformation of Rome from a republic to an empire. He is the man behind the Pax Romana and was able to seize the power of a kingdom which also accounted for around 25-30% of the world's GDP at the time. In addition, he could count on a personal fortune of around $4.6 trillion.
3. Akbar I (1542-1605) - Wealth incalculable
Akbar I, also known as Akbar the Great, was India's third Mughal emperor, from 1556 to 1605. His territory was approximately at the level of present-day India and accounted for 25% of the world's GDP. The Mughals used the mansabdar system. That is, territories over which an officer is appointed to raise income from the land.
In return for this income, the emperor may require soldiers depending on the size of the territory. These officers were not chosen hereditarily, which left Akbar a great deal of leeway. Reigning over 15 such provinces, the Empire proved extremely beneficial for the emperor for collecting taxes, which contributed to his wealth.
4. Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) - $372 billion
The Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist,Andrew Carnegie built his fortune in the 19th century who died in 1919.
Andrew Carnegie left the oil industry to Rockefeller and focused on the steel industry with the Carnegie Steel Company. His fortune is estimated at $372 billion at the time. With his wealth, he built over 1,600 public libraries in the United States. In his eyes, it was important to invest in knowledge and he also injected tens of millions of dollars into American education.
Before he died, Andrew spent the last few years of his life as a philanthropist and donated 90% of his fortune to charities, universities and other organizations.
5. John D Rockefeller (1839-1937) - $341 billion
During the 20th century, this famous billionaire and oil tycoon, John Davison Rockefeller controlled 90% of the flow of "black gold" (Oil). He died in 1937 at the age of 97. The creation of the Standard Oil Company, the largest oil company in the United States. During that time he owned 90% of all the oil. The company was divided into 34 small businesses. Among these still exist ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP.
John D. Rockefeller was also the first man to raise $1 billion. Converted, his fortune would come to about $341 billion dollars.
After the first world war, he has spent a lot of money for good causes and invested $250 million in his own organization, the Rockefeller Foundation.
6. Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov (1868-1918) - $300 billion
Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov is also known as Nicholas II the last Emperor of Russia and King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland. He ruled the Russian empire from 1894-1917 when Bolshevik revolutionaries overthrew and murdered him and his family. In 1916, Tsar Nicolas II's net worth was nearly $900 million, which when adjusted with inflation, was equivalent to $300 billion in 2012. At $300 billion, it makes him the sixth richest human in history and since the Russian Orthodox Church canonized him, he is the richest saint in human history.
7. Mir Osman Ali Khan (1886-1967) - $230 billion
Mir Osman Ali Khan reportedly owned 50 Rolls Royces and used the diamond as a paperweight in his office. He is also known as The Nizam of Hyderabad. He was one of the seven Nizam who ruled Hyderabad until the country was invaded by neighbouring India. He had a personal gold collection that was worth over $100 million and owned over $400 million worth of jewellery, including the famous Jacob Diamond which is worth $95 million today. He also had his own public currency, the Hyderabad Rupee, as well as possessing a vast private treasure and his portrait was published on the cover of Time magazine in 1937.
His estimated net worth was around $230 billion and can be considered the richest man in Indian history.
His Majesty was a benevolent ruler who was seriously involved in promoting education to the masses, science and construction. He made primary education compulsory for all citizens. In addition, according to his decree, it was free for poor people.
8. William The Conqueror (1027-1087) - $229.5 billion
William the Conqueror lived from 1028-1087 and was famous for invading and conquering England taking land and treasure from Sussex to Yorkshire and defeating Earl Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, where he became King William I. And it didn't stop there, the more kingdoms he conquers, the more he acquires wealth and that's what he had done in his whole life. When he died, he left the equivalent of $229.5 billion to his children.
9. Muammar Gaddafi (1942-2011) - 200 billion
The former Libyan colonel and dictator stunned the world in 2011 after being deposed and killed by rebels. He considered himself king, exhibiting his wealth to the entire African continent, while the Libyan people lived in misery. He had exercised uncontested control over the largest oil reserves in Africa for the past 41 years where his investments helped his bank accounts to mount like crazy.
At the time of his death, the personal fortune of Gaddafi was estimated at the equivalent of about $200 billion in different banks around the world and in oil investments in the country. The aircraft of the dictator Airbus A340 M cost around $100 million and the 333-meter cruise ship Phenicia was bought in 2012 by the Italian company Mediterranean Shipping Company for $697 million.
10. Henry Ford (1863-1947) – $199 billion
American businessman and founder of the famous Ford Motor Company, Henry dictated a vision that changed the history of industrialization. He launched Ford T, one of the first cars with a gasoline engine, which would later sell 16 million copies. He attributed the “Fordism” concept to the world, which consists of producing large quantities at a low cost through an assembly line. In life, he became one of the richest men in the world, and today, we only see his legacy because he left his fortune to the care of the Ford Foundation. His fortune was estimated at $199 billion.
11. Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) – $185 billion
Cornelius was a great American entrepreneur and a major philanthropist who made his fortune through the merchant marine with cargo and passenger transport on the stretches between Manhattan, Albany and New York. It was also one of the pioneers to invest in railroads during United States industrialization. It is estimated that he managed to accumulate $185 billion until his death in 1877 at the age of 82. Much of his will went to his 12 children and wife. One of the only works that remained from this legacy was the University of Vanderbilt, to which he left 1 million for its construction in memoriam. His net worth was equivalent to 1.15% of the annual GDP of the United States in 1877.
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Who was the richest person ever? The richest person ever is thought to have been an emperor with an accumulation of wealth often described as “unimaginable” or “incalculable.” The title goes to 14th-century African emperor Mansa Musa, and his wealth has been estimated to be the modern day equivalent of $400 billion.Who is richer than Elon Musk in history? ›
If we make a small comparison between the different fortunes, Mansa Musa's wealth (400 billion dollars) exceeds that of Elon Musk (219 billion dollars), Jeff Bezos (171 billion dollars) and Bill Gates (118 billion dollars), for example.Who were the top 3 richest people in history? ›
- John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937)
- Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)
- Catherine the Great (1729-1796)
- Augustus Caesar (63BC-14AD)
- Joseph Stalin (1878-1953)
- Empress Wu (624-705)
- Akbar I (1542-1605)
- Emperor Shenzong (1048-1085)
According to historians, the richest person ever to walk the earth was a man named Mansa Musa, a 14th century West African ruler, whose wealth was simply “indescribable” and “incomprehensible”, per the BBC.Who is the trillionaire in history? ›
1. Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan one of the most fearsome conquerors of all time, and by the end of his life the Mongol Empire occupied a vast empire from Central Asia to China. Much of the wealth came from plunders, taxes and control of caravan routes along the Silk Road and provide the Mongols with valuable revenue.Is Elon a trillionaire? ›
Leading the race is Tesla and Space X Founder Elon Musk. With a current net worth of US$263 billion and an annual growth rate of 129 per cent, Musk is anticipated to reach US$1.38 trillion in the next two years at age 52. It was in fact Jeff Bezos who was set to become the first trillionaire.Who is richer Elon or Jeff? ›
On the tenth anniversary of his Forbes 400 debut, Elon Musk brought a decisive end to Jeff Bezos' four-year run as America's richest person.Who is richer Elon or Bill Gates? ›
On October 29, 2021, Microsoft reclaimed the top spot, leaving Apple Inc behind, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. So, if Gates still had those shares, his net worth would have been $693 billion, more than that of Musk ($340.4 billion) and Bezos ($200.3 billion) combined.Who is the richest family in history? ›
HOUSE OF SAUD
This is the wealthiest family in history.
Most sources agree that John D. Rockefeller was the richest American in history.
John D Rockefeller was the top oil tycoon of the 19th century, and his savvy business decisions made him tremendously wealthy. John D Rockefeller became one of the wealthiest Americans in history by taking control of the newly born oil industry.Who are the 10 most richest person in the world? ›
- Elon Musk: $189 billion.
- 2. Bernard Arnault: $167 billion.
- Gautam Adani: $130 billion.
- Jeff Bezos: $120 billion.
- Bill Gates: $116 billion.
- Warren Buffett: $110 billion.
- Larry Ellison: $96.6 billion.
- Mukesh Ambani: $95 billion.
The granddaughter of the L'Oréal founder, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers was the wealthiest woman in the world as of April 2022. Her and her family's net worth was estimated at 74.8 billion U.S. dollars. Alice Walton, the daughter of the Walmart founder, was ranked second with 65.3 billion U.S. dollars in net worth.What family has the oldest money? ›
The Vanderbilts are one of America's oldest old money families. The family is of Dutch descent, and rose to prominence during the Gilded Age in the final decades of the 19th century. Cornelius Vanderbilt, born in 1794, grew up in poverty, but managed to marry above him.Who was the first black trillionaire? ›
|Robert L. Johnson|
|Born||Robert Louis Johnson April 8, 1946 Hickory, Mississippi, U.S.|
The United States is the richest country in the world with the highest GDP, as of 2021. China is the second richest country in the world with a $17.734 trillion GDP. Monaco is the richest country in the world when measured by GDP per capita.How much would John Rockefeller be worth today? ›
By the time of his death in 1937, estimates (if using his wealth as a percentage of US GDP) place his net worth in the range of $300 billion to $400 billion. Using the inflation model, in adjusted dollars for May 2022, his net worth would be $26.1 billion.Could Elon buy a country? ›
Therefore, Musk couldn't realistically buy a country even if he could afford it. However, the billionaire plans to build a city of a million people on Mars, which could bring him closer to owning a country.How much is Donald Trump worth? › How many billionaires are in the world? ›
But Musk remains firmly placed as the world's wealthiest man, with a net worth of $231 billion. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Zuckerberg's losses dropped the 37-year-old CEO from the world's seventh-richest man to No.Is Steve Jobs richer than Bill Gates? ›
Even though Bill Gates and Steve Jobs started massively successful technology companies, Gates' wealth ultimately exceeded Jobs' by a factor of six.Who is the richest man in Africa? ›
- The Walton family with $224.5 billion.
- The Mars family with $160 billion.
- The Koch family with $128.8 billion.
- The Al Saud family with $105 billion.
- The Hermès family with $94.6 billion.
- The Ambani family with $84.6 billion.
- The Wertheimer family with $79 billion.
- #8. Cox family. ...
- #7. Edward Johnson family. - Net worth: $36 billion. ...
- #6. S.C. Johnson family. ...
- #5. Lauder family. - Net worth: $40 billion. ...
- #4. Cargill-MacMillan family. - Net worth: $47 billion. ...
- #3. Mars family. - Net worth: $94 billion. ...
- #2. Koch family. - Net worth: $100 billion. ...
- #1. Walton family. - Net worth: $247 billion.
At the top of the list of richest royals is the royal family of Saudi Arabia, whose current king is Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The royal family comprises around 15,000 members and has a net worth of around $1.4 trillion (140000 crores), well above any other monarchy.Who is the most elite family in America? ›
1. The Walton family ($357.1 billion) The family behind the world's largest retailer is the richest in the world. The Walton family's 47 per cent stake in Walmart is the foundation of their $357.1 billion fortune.What is considered old money? ›
Old money is "the inherited wealth of established upper-class families (i.e. gentry, patriciate)" or "a person, family, or lineage possessing inherited wealth".Who is the youngest billionaire? ›
Kim Jung-youn is the world's youngest billionaire, according to reports. While both Kim and her elder sister Jung-min inherited equal shares of a 30.78 per cent stake each in NXC, the teenager has now become the world's youngest billionaire.
|Chang Yun Chung|
BIOGRAPHY OF OPRAH WINFREY: An Inspiring Story of the First Female Billionaire on Forbes List.How do rich people live? ›
Many millionaires, for example, allocate their time differently — they spend more time focusing on personal growth, planning for investments, and working, and less time sleeping. They also gravitate toward similar wealth-building strategies, like saving as much as they can and bringing in multiple income streams.How many millionaires are in the world? ›
Regions by number and percentage of millionaires.
|Numbers (in thousands)||62,483|
|Percentage of world total numbers||100.0|
|As percentage of total adult population||1.1|
|1||Carlos Slim Helu & Famil||$73 bil|
|2||Bill Gates||$67 bil|
|3||Amancio Ortega||$57 bil|
|4||Warren Buffett||$53.5 bil|
Currently, no one has yet claimed trillionaire status, although some of the world's richest individuals may only be a few years away from this milestone.Who is the richest girl alive? ›
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers of France is the richest woman in the world, ranked No. 14 on Forbes' list of billionaires.Who is the richest woman of all time? ›
1. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers. With her net worth estimated at $78.4 billion, Francoise Bettencourt is the wealthiest woman on earth.Who is the richest female alive? ›
|No.||Name||Net worth US$ (billions)|
|2||Françoise Bettencourt Meyers||65.4|
Thanks to a blowout earnings report and a big car order by Hertz, Tesla's market cap surpassed $1 trillion on Monday—and CEO Elon Musk has emerged as the richest person in the history of the world.
Mansa Musa (Arabic: منسا موسى, romanized: Mansā Mūsā; r. c. 1312 – c. 1337) was the ninth mansa of the Mali Empire, which reached its territorial peak during his reign. Musa is known for his wealth, and has sometimes been called the wealthiest person in history.Who are the richest people in all of history? ›
- JAKOB FUGGER. ~ $400 billion.
- JOHN ROCKEFELLER. ~ $350 billion.
- ANDREW CARNEGIE. ~ $310 billion.
- WILLIAM VANDERBILT. ~ $230 billion.
- HENRY FORD. ~ $200 billion.
- CORNELIUS VANDERBILT. ~ $185 billion.
- ALAN RUFUS. ~ $180 billion.
- WILLIAM DE WARENNE. ~ $150 billion.
Mansa Musa (Richer than anyone could describe)
The top of our list is none other than Mansa Musa. You know you've made it when no one can describe how rich you are. The King of Timbuktu from the 14th century presided over what was the largest producer of gold in the world, when gold was in high demand.
Musk's net worth exceeds the GDPs of Colombia, FInland. Pakistan, Chile and Portugal. Musk is clearly in uncharted territory when it comes to wealth. He is the richest person ever, according to Forbes.How did Elon Musk get rich so fast? ›
Musk's remarkable jump in wealth is linked to his ownership stake in electric car maker Tesla, and to a lesser extent his holdings in ventures including Space X and Boring Company.Did Elon Musk give 5.7 billion dollars? ›
Elon Musk Donated $5.7 Billion of Tesla (TSLA) Shares to Charity - Bloomberg.Who is the richest black person in the world? ›
Born in Nigeria, Aliko Dangote is the richest Black person in the world.Who is the richest black person in history? ›
According to the 2021 Forbes ranking of the world's billionaires, Nigerian business magnate Aliko Dangote had a net worth of $11.5 billion and was the world's richest black man.Who was the greatest emperor to ever live? ›
Gaius Octavius Thurinus, also known as Octavian or “Augustus,” served as the first official emperor of the Roman Empire, and is often seen by historians as the greatest.Who was richer Vanderbilt or Rockefeller? ›
Rockefeller atop the list of the richest Americans in history, followed by Cornelius Vanderbilt and John Jacob Astor. Bill Gates was the top living person, coming in fifth.
John Davison Rockefeller Sr. (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937) was an American business magnate and philanthropist. He has been widely considered the wealthiest American of all time and the richest person in modern history.Is Genghis Khan Chinese? ›
Genghis Khan himself was technically not ethnic Han, but he and mainly his successors saw themselves as legitimate Chinese emperors by establishing the Yuan Dynasty. He was also on official record as the founder or Taizu 太祖 of Yuan.